When I look back, I can’t believe we were so naive. I really did think that we had done our homework but obviously not well enough! We had been in our house about 2 years when we decided to add another bedroom. Our house is in a nice neighborhood, we really like the local school and our kids have friends in our street they can play with so we didn’t want to move away. We live at the end of a cul de sac and all the kids play in that area. After school the house feels like a railway station with all the comings and goings, but we love it.

Our house was originally built in 1961 and had already been extended. There was room to add a master suite at the back which would give our two kids a room of their own and we could still have a study. I found the names of three contractors but one name stuck in my head. I felt I knew the company. That is because this company advertises heavily, particularly on the radio. Everything about them sounded so positive – small family owned, been in business 50 years, the customer is the most important thing, we listen to your needs. It all sounded so plausible that I took this to mean that they were better than the other choices. I did a bit of googling but didn’t look into proper references or talk to any of their clients. And I have to admit that the salesman from the company who came to give us a quote was polite, helpful and very good looking!!

In the end we didn’t get burned too badly. We had signed a contract and decided to go ahead but things stalled even at the plans stage. The contractor said they had a design build department in their office and so they could draw up the necessary plans. It all seemed fine at first until we asked when the plans would be ready to submit to the city. This is when the contractor started stalling. Red flags were flying high when he suggested that we didn’t need approval and that we would be fine just going ahead. After all, it was only a little job and at the back of the house. No-one would know! He also offered us a big discount if we went this route. FInally the penny dropped that we were being had.

We got an architect to draw up the plans and then got quotes from 3 companies. The one we chose did a good job with only a few hiccups along the way. When you are spending a good sum of money, don’t take anything for granted but check and double check. If a contractor is not upfront with giving you genuine references and allowing you to check them out, don’t go ahead. And take all ads with a pinch of salt.